Ryan Ma, Level Up (start-up)
Graphic Design Major
I knew rather early on that I wanted to work at a fast paced start-up environment. Design teams in such workplaces are usually rather versatile, with a wide range of talents handling different types of design work. I reckon that will present me with an abundance of learning opportunities.
LevelUp, in particular, was a rising-star among the vibrant Boston start-up scene. The upward momentum of the company really drew me in at first. But after visiting the office and meeting some of the developers and designer, the awesome culture is ultimately what made my decision.
The culture is absolutely fantastic! Despite being a rapidly expanding operation, LevelUp has very little hierarchy. You are given a lot of freedom in our own work and you’re always encouraged to communicate with your colleagues, whether that means chilling in the cafe area or scooter-ing around the office together.
LevelUp is also very focused on expanding our products. New ideas constantly fuel our development pipeline. Since we move rather quickly, that means you must be comfortable revisiting, modifying (or even scrapping) what you had just built last week! But all is done for the good of the company.
One of my proudest achievements thus far was my work at South by Southwest (SXSW).
LevelUp was the exclusive mobile payment platform at one of the SXSW convention centers. And to ensure our presence at the location, I produced a suite of promotional material that ranges from banners to postcards. It was incredible to see my design featured in the photos used in articles covering LevelUp. An interesting twist was that I had to produce a slideshow for Seth Priebatsch, our Chief Ninja, two days before he had to give a presentation at SXSW. The slideshow turned out great and I am very glad my design has successfully transformed his brilliant idea into very imaginative yet tangible visuals.
I have learned a tremendous amount in just a short 12 weeks. I have certainly deepened my fluency in various front-end computer languages. But I find the more precious lesson to be the management and development of design. I am learning so much about collaborating with other departments, and balancing the varying interests and concerns from all different perspectives. This lesson is unlike the familiar school environment and very unique to the “real world.”
Co-op really is what you make of it. I believe every co-op has as much potential to grow their competencies and responsibilities as a full-time position at the company. What was written on the co-op description only reflects where you start in this race. Your hard work and enthusiasm will show through if you aspire to rise even in the short six months on the job.
Samantha Wyllie, BOSE
Graphic Design Major
[This co-op] just seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being able to work as an art director for a global company wasn’t something I could pass up.
Everyone I have worked with is incredibly talented, smart, and encouraging. It’s easy to get excited about the projects you are working on because everyone is so passionate about what they do.
I primarily work with the digital advertising team, and I’ve been involved in concept work for interactive web experiences. I have also been working on a video project that has proven to be a huge learning experience.
I’m beginning to understand how a global advertising agency operates and the role of an art director within that structure. I’m hoping this co-op gives me some clarity into which future employment opportunities I want to pursue.
Ashley Durrer, Museum of Fine Arts
Understanding and appreciating art can be a challenge, even when the art in question is part of the Museum of Fine Arts’ world-class collection of nearly 450,000 works. For visitors who are blind or have other disabilities, the challenge becomes more difficult—and even more important.
Studio Art major Ashley Durrer ’14 tackled accessibility issues during her 2012 co-op. She trained as a sighted guide, and learned methods for introducing blind visitors to the collection: describing works verbally, utilizing replicas and tactile materials, and giving sculptural touch tours. Ashley helped organize tours for visitors with disabilities, and prepared interpretative material, including raised line drawings and composition boards.
She conceived of-and developed-a tour for members of the Starlight Foundation, an organization that supports chronically ill children and their families. “As I have been a member of the Starlight Foundation, it was important for me to do something meaningful for them as they had for me,” Ashley said. “We included four different tours throughout the different sections of the Museum: Contemporary, Ancient World, Europe, and Art of Americas. Each tour included a different art-making activity, which related to the theme in each tour group. I heard from guides that some children really excelled. For me, it was wonderful seeing children get involved with the art with their parents and siblings. I spoke with families after their tours, gave them additional information to come back, and many told me they were staying the rest of the day.”
Ashley also managed an art-making project for the students at the Perkins School for the Blind.
“I learned more about persons with disabilities and what resources there are to aid them,” Ashley reflected. “Personally, this was an extremely educational experience as well as rewarding. It was fantastic to be able to give back to these visitors at the Museum. The Museum was an exciting an educational environment to work in. There was an extensive amount of support and resources available to me.”
Hannah Goodwin, the MFA’s Manager of Accessibility, was delighted with Ashley’s performance: “the world of cultural access can be delicate in that sometimes people share private or personal information in order to be able to have the accommodation they need. Ashley has done a superb job at respecting people’s privacy … and repeatedly demonstrated her ability to quickly turn information and new skills into a solid product or outcome.”